OOBE Digitalisea

[1080p; 2014]

Styles: techno, ambient
Others: Actress, Hype Williams, Huerco S., Lee Gamble

“At the time Berghain was about to explode on the international club scene as a temple. The feeling was in the air that something special was happening. I went and saw a pale shadow of the past. Grim and boring beats, endlessly pounding to an audience who felt they were part of an experience but who lacked cohesion and energy. For me personally something had died. Be it a spirit, be it an ideal, be it an adventure in sound. Rave and techno felt dead to me.”
– Leyland James Kirby

“Post-Rave” was an idea, a social and sonic amalgamation I discovered around the same time as the actual music it referenced, after coming across Zomby’s fantastic Where Were U in 92?, which naturally led to Burial, Actress, and a host of other artists engaging with the spirit of a form (apparently) long evaporated. This is perhaps a logical spot to place OOBE’s Digitalisea — unless I’m misinformed by the net’s distorted chronicle of electronic music history. Perhaps “knackered” house and techno is the professorial resident advisor and logical, weary-eyed but well-informed successor to dank raves, alongside the legacies of Janus, FWD>>, GHE20G0TH1K, Polymorphism, et al.

I remember coming across OOBE first through Infinity Frequencies’ favorites on YouTube. There were no links provided, and at that point, OOBE didn’t even have an artist page either. Much like Rezzett, OOBE originally traded in a state of pseudonymity that didn’t necessarily add to or detract from its bleak and monotone nature, but it did detach his music in an alluring and striking way, especially in a digital age so in-tune with self-mythos.

OOBE’s nature and presence on 1080p seems logical enough — crushed synths and near-indistinguishable vocals float around decidedly haphazard and blitzed loops of kicks, snares, and hi-hats, stuttering, flickering, and warbling by their repetitive pressure. There’s a palpable tension to these grooves that aren’t content to sit and stew in their own repetition to oblivion: a 6 AM descent into deceptively engrossing walls of beat and space that also sluggishly contort under their own weight.

It’d be easy to point to Digitalisea as a composite of Actress’ Splash, the ethereal haze of Hype Williams, a variety of Boards of Canada’s mid-2000s explorations, and fellow Opal Tapes alumnus Huerco S.’s Colonial Patterns. And while OOBE doesn’t push far past what these artists have achieved or what still could be done, the deftness of this form of empty, bleak techno is certainly due, especially considering that, among this year’s hordes of engrossingly scuzzy techno revelations, Digitalisea is a restrained and focused breather.

Links: OOBE - 1080p

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